Virginia Western Community College students to connect with NASA astronauts on space station

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February 10 event will include live Q&A via Earth-to-space question-and-answer session.

ROANOKE — Virginia Western Community College has been awarded an In-Flight Education Downlink from NASA, providing a unique experience connecting students with astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

NASA Astronaut Mark Vande Hei

During the downlink event on February 10, students will gather with College and community leaders for a Q&A session with the astronauts via an Earth-to-space question and answer session. Questions submitted and pre-recorded by College and local high school students will be answered live by the astronauts.

“Cultivating a culture of curiosity is a cornerstone of our STEM curriculum, and this opportunity puts that into practice,” said Dr. Mallory White, a Virginia Western biology professor and the downlink coordinator. “We are honored to be selected and be able to provide this authentic and unique learning opportunity to our community.”

The event will take place at the Whitman Theater Auditorium beginning at 11 a.m. ET Invited speakers include U.S. Rep. Ben Cline; Brett Malone, President and CEO of Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center; John Goss, President of the Roanoke Valley Astronomical Society; and Ray Bradley, Solar System Ambassador for NASA. Robin Reed, anchor at WDBJ7, will emcee the event.

The in-person event is open to Virginia Western students, staff and the media. The public is encouraged to join the downlink at 1 p.m. ET February 10 via https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive.

Virginia Western is the only school in the Southeastern U.S. to be participating in a downlink with NASA this spring.

The downlink event is part of a series of STEM (science, technology, education, and math) learning opportunities offered at Virginia Western under the theme Q.U.E.S.T. — Questioning, Understanding, Exploring and Solving Together. Other activities include astro-photography workshops, field trips to observatories and hosting STEM nights at local elementary and middle schools.

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